Reelected Leaders In Brazil, Australia Face Challenges

President Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, reelected over the weekend, confronts an economy that had been an emerging-country model of excellence and now shows signs of going south. Merrill Lynch & Co., for example, contends that risk of devaluation and recession in South America's largest economy have increased sharply. Meanwhile Australian Prime Minister John Howard has proclaimed his government's narrow victory in federal elections a "mandate" for his tax reform plans and the sale of telecommunications giant Telstra Corp. Howard's Liberal-National Coalition is expected to hold a majority margin of at least six in the 148-member House of Representatives once postal and special votes in the Oct. 3 election are counted. But he may still have to compromise over the new 10% Goods and Services Tax. And Senate approval for the sale of Telstra also might prove difficult. However, Howard's plans to end some of the tax-saving advantages of executive-pay packages are unlikely to be challenged.

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